Software

Blackboard Ally now enabled in all courses

In order to help instructors and students transition to online learning, Blackboard Ally for LMS has been enabled in all Blackboard courses. Ally helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats (such as semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille) and providing instructor feedback and guidance on fixing accessibility issues in a course. Please visit the UA Technology Accessibility website for more information.

O365 Mailbox Migration

UA faculty and staff mailboxes will soon transition to the O365 cloud environment.

OIT is working with divisions and colleges across campus to migrate OIT-supported faculty and staff email mailboxes to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud environment. Hosting email in the cloud offers many benefits including business continuity, infrastructure cost savings, real time updates without system downtime, and email accessibility anywhere with an internet connection.

Migrating to O365 is a project that OIT has been working towards for over a year. OIT migrated their own mailboxes to the cloud in the fall of 2019.

“If we’re going to ask the campus community to make a change – we’re going to be the first to experience that change,” said Deputy CIO Mike Shelton. “We’ve performed testing within our own organization, as well as several pilot groups across campus. I’ve been very pleased with how smooth the testing has been.  We’ve really experienced minimal issues thanks to extensive planning and testing by our OIT project team.”

Project Progress

The Honors College, Registrar’s Office and some mailboxes from the College of Arts and Sciences were moved to the O365 cloud environment earlier this month. The School of Social Work and College of Education are the next groups to be migrated.

“Our current focus is to migrate all colleges this spring before many faculty members leave campus for the summer,” said Meagan Bennett, OIT director of customer relations. “We’ll shift our focus to more operational entities in the summer months.”

Colleges and divisions will be notified of their migration at least two weeks before their mailboxes will be migrated. The mailbox migration itself requires no action from the mailbox owner. After a mailbox is migrated, individuals will need to reconfigure their email settings on mobile devices, and login to Outlook on desktops.

Migration Preparation

To prepare for email migration, OIT encourages faculty and staff to upgrade the Office software on their computers to the latest version, Office ProPlus. By upgrading Microsoft Office to ProPlus, users can ensure they receive real-time software updates from Microsoft. ProPlus allows Microsoft to push updates as they become available directly to the machine, no future manual Microsoft Office updates required.

UA faculty and staff can login to the Microsoft Office portal, portal.office.com, with their mybamausername@ua.edu email address and myBama password to download Microsoft Office ProPlus.

“Having desktop software up to date will speed up the migration process,” said Shelton. “We have an aggressive timeline to migrate all OIT-supported mailboxes to the cloud to ensure a consistent experience for the campus community with all mailboxes being housed on one platform.

FA Email Addresses

A separate project is in motion to unify the Finance and Operations email platform with the University’s email platform in the Microsoft Office 365 cloud environment.  

“Having a unified email platform is going to bring many benefits,” said Shelton. “This will create a more efficient and seamless user experience across Finance and Operations and the remainder of the campus community.”

Individuals in Finance and Operations will be notified directly in advance of any mailbox migration.  

We’re Here to Help

Additional details about the mailbox migration project, Office ProPlus, and step-by-step instructions for software installation are available on the OIT website.

Box to End Support for High Sierra

Effective April 30, 2020, Box will no longer support Box Sync, Box Tools, Notes for Desktop and Box Drive on Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra). Box will continue to support Box applications on the latest two versions of Mac OS X (Mojave and Catalina). To continue to receive Box support and the latest security patches, ensure your Mac System is upgraded to either OS X 10.14 (Mojave) or OS X 10.15 (Catalina).

VPN Client Upgrade

Monday, Jan. 13, OIT will be updating the Cisco Any Connect VPN Client. Installed VPN clients will update automatically when the application is launched and will require no further action.

Newly installed clients will need to insert the domain and network in the Ready to Connect box. For most users, this will be “uavpn.ua.edu/campus”.

The new VPN client will work on all supported systems. If you are currently using an unsupported operating system, you will need to upgrade the OS to a supported version to be able to use VPN. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.

Meet Panopto – UA’s New Lecture Capture Software

The Center for Instructional Technology now offers Panopto as the University’s lecture capture software. Tegrity has been used for recording lectures at the University since 2007; however, the software will be discontinued in 2020. UA’s Center for Instructional Technology selected Panopto as its replacement.

Like Tegrity, Panopto is a lecture capture software that enables students, faculty and staff to record and share videos. The more robust feature set is an easy trade-off for the inconvenience of switching systems. Now with Panopto, users can combine recordings for easy storage and then download those recordings as MP4 files. Panopto also offers non-destructive editing so users will never lose valuable information again.

Panopto is replacing tegrity

Many faculty and staff have already started using Panopto during the Fall 2019 semester and are reaping the benefits.

“It’s quick and easy to start at the beginning of each class and then easy to post to a folder on my Blackboard course home page,” said Jil Chambless, a math instructor referring to MATH 121 lectures she recorded this semester. “Several students have told me they find these helpful, not only if they miss class, but also for reviewing after a class they attended. This semester’s videos will be helpful in case of the need for academic continuity in the future.”

CIT is working to migrate 10,000 hours of Tegrity content to Panopto. Once this process is complete, instructors will have the opportunity to request the inclusion of content that was not transferred during this initial migration. The CIT will continue to have access to Tegrity content through 2020.

The CIT encourages instructors to start using Panopto on the first day of class as a “record day one” initiative. Not only does this allow instructors to become familiar with the new software, but recording the first day of class allows instructors a way to share critical information with students who may not be in attendance on the first day.

“Students often sign up for additional classes after the first day of class begins,” said Rachel Thompson, director of the CIT. “Students who are not yet enrolled or do not attend the first day of class miss out on important information such as course requirements, expectations and schedules. Recording the first day of class allows instructors to have this information readily available to share with students.”

Panopto has been installed in classrooms across campus. Instructors can access Panopto via the desktop icon, or by visiting the application menu. Step-by-step guides and tutorials for using Panopto are now available on the CIT website. Additionally, workshops on Panopto best practices will be offered throughout the semester, check out the UA events calendar to see workshop dates and to register.

Visiting Scholars – Software Access

Visiting scholars now have the same access to UA-licensed software as UA faculty. OIT received direction from Academic Affairs to license all visiting scholars as faculty members. On the OIT website, wherever a software catalog item is eligible to faculty, it is now also eligible to visiting scholars. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.